New data released today shows that only a quarter (25.6 per cent) of South Aussies consider alcohol an important risk factor for cancer, a figure which has decreased significantly since the 2018 figure of 34.8 per cent.
Cancer Council SA Community Education Coordinator Diem Tran says the data paints a concerning picture for the health of South Australians.
“Alcohol causes seven different types of cancer, so it’s worrying to see that so many South Aussies still aren’t associating alcohol consumption with increased cancer risk,” she said.
“Every year, around 3,500 cancer cases are linked to alcohol. It is a known cause of cancer and has been given the highest cancer-causing classification available (Group 1) alongside other substance such as tobacco smoke, asbestos and radium,” she said.
“Alcohol not only has a direct link to cancer, it can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and being overweight is a risk factor for 13 different types of cancers, including bowel, breast, kidney and liver.
“Our concern is that awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption, which were already low, have now decreased further.”
The data also showed that in 2019, 28.1 per cent of South Aussies are drinking more than the recommended levels of alcohol, with a higher proportion of men exceeding the recommendations than women (35.9 per cent compared to 19.7 per cent).
“The current NHMRC Guidelines released in December advised men and women to drink no more than four standard drinks a day, and no more than 10 in any given week. Due to the direct link with cancer, it’s concerning to see that so many South Aussies are still drinking above this limit,” she said.
“We know that when it comes to drinking, there is no safe level. Cancer Council SA recommends that you avoid or limit alcohol and if you do choose to drink, follow the current NHMRC guidelines,” she said.
Ms Tran urged South Aussies to use January as a time to set healthy goals for 2021, including avoiding or limiting alcohol intake.
“The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol related harm,” she said.
“Avoiding or limiting alcohol really is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and is a fantastic way to kick-start 2021.”
For more information on alcohol and cancer risk visit the Cancer Council website.
Interviews can be arranged on request by contacting Natasha Baugh on 0400 855 244 or sending an email.
*Country SA classification uses postcode converted to ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard Statistical Area, which is converted to health-related regions and metropolitan versus country split.
* This data was collected under the previous NHMRC guidelines but interpreted under the current NHMRC guidelines that were published in 2020.
Reference: Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and Universities Australia. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra 2020